Passport to World Flavors: Travel the World With Your Taste Buds in Minneapolis Northwest
You don’t need a passport to take a flavor journey around the world! From collard greens and sirracha fried rice to banh-mi and a Cajun seafood boil, we’ve got a kaleidoscope of tasty options in Minneapolis Northwest.
North America – Louisana & Mexico
This drool-worthy Louisana-style restaurant is a favorite among some Minnesota Vikings, and it’s for good reason! For some delightfully hefty portions and full-on Cajun spices in a fun, casual and laid back atmosphere, Crazy Cajun is the place to be. Owner John Nygen grew up in Texas tasting the vibrant flavors of southern cooking. He packed up his skills and expertise and opened Crazy Cajun in 2017. It’s become a hot spot ever since with its now-famous seafood boils with fresh market seafood. Choose from crawfish, mussels, king crab, blue crab, snow crab, clams, and jumbo shrimp, then pick one of two sauces – the house garlic butter sauce (Cajun-style) or the coco sauce made of sweet coconut cream, garlic, butter, and basil leaf. From there you choose your heat level – mild, medium, hot, and fire. Add corn, potatoes and sausage to your boil and you’re set to leave full and satisfied! You can also experience the taste of fried frog legs and homemade gumbo.
El Rancho Mexican Restaurant
If you can’t afford an all inclusive trip to Mexico, El Rancho Mexican Restaurant can deliver all the flavor, minus the baggage fees! Choose from a jam-packed menus of authentic and modern Mexican food. Nothing says vacation like a refreshing margarita and some freshly made warm tortilla chips and salsa or queso. There’s something for everyone with standard Mexican offerings like beef, chicken and fish, to more adventurous dishes and amazing seafood options. Craving a burger instead? You can get that too!
Irie Vybz Jamaican Restaurant
"Irie" is a Jamaican adjective describing the ultimate positive, pleasing, all-encompassing quality experience. That's a perfect way to describe the dishes at Irie Vybz Jamaican Restaurant in Brooklyn Center! Try authentic Jamaican cuisine like Jerk Chicken, Drunken Jerk Shrimp, Curry Goat, Oxtail or the Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wraps. For those of you who prefer a stateside menu, enjoy a wide selection of American options from BBQ ribs to burgers. There's something for everyone at Irie Vybz Jamaican Restaurant.
Africa – Liberia, Nigeria, & Kenya
Enjoy slow-cooked collard greens, perfectly spiced goat curry, and tender Kenyan flatbread at Jambo Africa. Delicious, authentic African recipes are made from scratch and include oxtail, curry stew, chicken wings, jollof rice, plantains, sambusas and more. Also enjoy African coffee, tea and wines. Apart from being a destination for tasty African cuisine in the Midwest, Jambo Africa is a center for experiencing African culture thousands of miles from the continent. In addition to serving Kenyan and Liberian cuisine, the restaurant is an African cultural hub and frequently hosts events including live music, poetry, storytelling and more.
Mama Ti’s African Kitchen
Just a few miles from Jambo Africa, you’ll find Mama Ti’s African Kitchen, also serving up some of the best African dishes in Minneapolis Northwest. Kabobs, seasoned wings, fried fish, jollof rice, oxtails, couscous, fried okra, collard greens and more provide a wide range of choices. You can purchase select food items from their store, such as Palava Sauce, Palm Butter Soup, Kitily Torborgee and Cassava Leaf, so you can bring African flavors to your home. With any meal, you’ll want to pick up Mama Ti’s West African Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic). For centuries, cultures have used ginger for its medicinal benefits extracted from ginger root. Adding water, sugar cane juice, crushed pineapples, and lemon make Mama Ti’s Ginger Beer the perfect beverage to pair with your meal.
Asia – Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, China & India
Lemon Grass Thai
Lemon Grass Thai in Brooklyn Park offers more by keeping things simple and local. Head Chef and Owner Ann Sengmavong has fused Thai with global palates since 2005 and is inspired by her travels across the U.S., Asia and Europe. The result of her creativity and expertise is colorful and original dishes that transport customers to other worlds. "This is not the typical Thai restaurant," says Ann. And with globe lights and fresh flowers in the renovated dining room, you'll have a unique urban dining experience right here in the northwest metro. The menu at Lemon Grass Thai is as varied as Chef Ann’s travels around the globe. Everything from curries and rice entrees, to finger-licking appetizers and lunch specials, there is truly something for everyone. In addition to the many Thai favorites on the menu, customers can enjoy watching the magic happen at the sushi bar, as chefs expertly craft beautiful, fresh sushi rolls. Traditional favorites like the Unagi Roll, California Roll and Spicy Salmon Roll are sure to satisfy, but if you want to dine outside the box, opt for one of the many specialty rolls.
Mi-Sant Banh Mi
Mi-Sant Banh Mi takes its customers on a flavor journey to both Vietnam with flavors like pickled carrots and daikons, cucumbers, and cilantro and France with fresh breakfast, crossaints, pastries and baguette. Take a seat in the brightly lit, fast-casual restaurant with its dleightful and whimsical decor, or grab a bite to eat with its drive-through window. Enjoy the satisifying crunch of taste and textures of the classic banh mi sandwich, made with fresh baguette, along with crisp and fresh vegetables and perfectly seasoned meats like grilled pork, Vietnamese ham or bulgogi beef. And you can't go wrong with its fresh noodle bowls. Grab the Mi-Sant Special bowl for the perfect sampling of falvors with your choice of rice or noodles, lettuce, cucumbers, mint, cilantro, pickled carrots & daikons, grilled pork, fried egg, peanuts, plus an egg roll. Don't forget to grab an order of fresh spring rolls, always made fresh, on-the-spot, and bursting with flavor, whether its Korean Bulgogi, Lemongrass Chicken, shrimp, Nem Nuong (grilled pork sausage) and more!
Que Viet Village House III
The Vietnam adventure continues at Que Viet Village House III, the longest-running Vietnamese Restaurant in Minnesota. Que Viet is known for its pho, but the handmade egg rolls are the real scene stealer! Created from a simple home recipe, these egg rolls are a real standout, bursting with flavorful ground pork and vermicelli in a crispy shell and served with an unforgettable fish sauce dip! And at the end of summer, you can find these elusive appetizers as giant egg rolls on a stick at the great Minnesota Get-Together, the Minnesota State Fair! The State Fair specialty made Food Network’s list of “America’s Best Foods on a Stick.”
Final stop on the Vietnam flavor journey — MT Noodles! Family and traditions intermingle to create unforgettable homemade recipes and handmade sauces at this family owned eatery. With more than three decades of experience, there’s a story behind every dish. MT Noodles is named after Mỹ Tho, a city in South Viet Nam where Chef Anh Bui was born. This highly-regarded restaurant has gained a strong following and its fair share of media coverage. MT Noodles Voted Best Vietnamese Restaurant in the Twin Cities 2017 and has been featured on Twin Cities Live, and in City Pages and Eater Minneapolis.
Rolls & Bowls Asian Cook House
Flavors of Thailand, Vietnam and Japan unite at Rolls & Bowls Asian Cook House! You’ll be welcomed with bright colors and plenty of quirky décor that makes you feel like you’re somehow in multiple countries all at once. Keep your eyes peeled and take it all in from the Fortune Cat (also known as Maneki-neko, a common Japanese figurine which is often believed to bring good luck to the owner) to the pop art wall and menu display board filled with emojis. The menu is filled with a variety of bowls, you can choose from like Pho, Poke, & Ramen. They’re known for their different options that will broaden your taste such as Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, four season rolls and house special meals. If you love to customize your own food, build your own poke bowl, loaded bowl, or noodle salad bowl! Finish off with some traditional Vietnamese coffee and freshly made sweet dessert or refresh with a smoothie filled tapoica pearls or gummies. Stop in for happy hour and enjoy its freshly infused sake in falvors like watermelon and pineapple.
Fine Indian cuisine is just minutes away at Tandoor Indian in Maple Grove. Start out with some freshly made naan bread, baked in a traditional Tandoor oven. Go with the house naan or spice it up a bit with garlic or cheese options, or Pashwari Naan, made with raisin, pistachio and ghee. The restaurant also has a kids menu for pickier eaters. It uses the freshest ingredients and make everything from scratch daily! With their variety of classic dishes, like tandoori and biryani, Tandoor’s goal is to provide the absolute finest dining experience.
Pizza Karma brings together a very unique flavor combo — pizza and Indian food! So, it's kind of like a trip to India with stop in Italy. Pizza Karma makes its pizzas with the highest quality ingredients and flavors from around the world on its signature naan crust. Enjoy a paneer or tandoor-roasted veggie pizza, or build your own with a variety of unique toppings.
Europe – Italy & Greece
Sweet Taste of Italy
Speaking of Italy... Grab your Vespa scooter and head to Sweet Taste of Italy for some impressive Italian dishes, made from scratch every day. From the fresh bread made and baked in store to whipping its own butter and grinding the cheese for homemade lasagna. Come into the quaint restaurant for a delicious pasta dish with its secret red sauce, or try a sandwich loaded with our hand-sliced meats and cheese.
Close your eyes and imagine you're sitting at the top of the the Greek Island of Santorini, looking down at the deep blue sea as you're surrounded by the vibrant and colorful Greek homes... If you can't committ to the full trip to Greece, you can dine on fresh foods made from scratch by Greek chefs at Olympia Cafe and Gyros. The restaurant in downtown Osseo offers a plethora of traditional Greek items like gyros, Greek Salad, Spanakopita and more, plus a delicious full breakfast menu no matter what time of day. And for those not so inclined to experience Greek food, Olympia also has a strong lineup of American classics, including wraps, burgers, breakfast, fish, ribs, we have it all!
To get a few more stamps in your flavor passport, explore our Top 15 Dining Discoveries to Satisfy Your Cravings, as well as our picks for the Best Burgers in Minneapolis Northwest and Best Brunch Spots! Share your foodie adventures with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #WeLoveMNW!
About the Author
- Natalie Conrad
Natalie is the Public Relations & Communications Manager at Minneapolis Northwest Tourism. She enjoys exploring the rich food scene and diving into the many active, intellectual and multicultural adventures the Minneapolis Northwest and the Twin Cities area have to offer. She also enjoys running, reading, writing, live music, yoga, nature and trying new things or learning something new every day!
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